Having watched the Sonoma Runnoffs from the grass at T2 near the flagging station, I'd say the 1.6 is NOT competitive. He had to work twice as hard as the NBs behind him to keep P2 (or was it P3 already...) and not make any mistakes or suffer heat soak or let his tires get too hot. The field of the next 4 or 5 NBs were on his bumper the entire race until finally the P3 NB was able to get a nose inside at T2 and he got freight trained.
Once an NB passed the 1.6, they were gone. Once the NBs got passed the 1.6, driver talent opened gaps between them.
Coming out of T2, the 1.6 was regularly challenged by the NBs behind him to get to T3.
I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with you.. but exactly how do you know the 1.6 needed to work twice as hard? And could not make any mistakes implying the NB could? that is absolutely incorrect btw.. You are throwing out opinions as fact...
Btw since we are throwing out hypotheticals... if you put the three drivers.. Chris Haldeman, Preston Pardus and Ken in the same car, same day.. what are the results in your opinion? I will say that 99% of all SM drivers come out of a comparison with Chris and Preston not looking good.